Images come in many forms that portray different ideas. Whether a picture, art, or advertisement, they all effect people mentally or emotionally and even subliminally. Not only do images affect people but society as well as a whole. Sometimes images have more than one meaning.
As Arthur Brisbane once said, “A picture is worth one thousand words”, refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It is up to the people how they want to interpret the messages conveyed in an image. Images like the Victim of Beauty make a statement about women who are always thriving and competing to reach for a certain kind of apparel approved by media.
The image I’ve chosen shows a beautiful woman with a black eye and a text bolded, “VICTIM OF BEAUTY”. I believe this is a controversial image because of the title and the woman expressing that title. The black eye represents physical and mental abuse. Her hair is done in a way that it is very neat and perfectly put together. The structure of her face and upper body shows how thin and fragile she looks, as how a doll is delicate. She is wearing a red dress along with red lipstick and eye make-up. There is no real expression on her face but there is a sense of discontentment and a kind of emptiness picked up from her photo.
The audience this image is trying to get attention from is women. I think this image would be very much effective for the intended audience because it is a direct message to women and some may feel they can relate to it. As Leo Tolstoy says, “Every work of art causes the receiver to enter into a certain kind of relationship both with him who produced, or is producing, the art, and with all those who, simultaneously, previously, or subsequently, receive the same "artistic impression”. The art in this way has an effect on women because it shows a relationship between them and what is seen in the image. For women, the relationship is between the woman in the image and the audience themselves. What the photographer intended to do and what the women understood from it, the artistic impression of the image is therefore understood.
This image plays a role in contemporary society because it portrays an idea that women are victims of beauty. A victim of beauty means that someone feels obliged and bullied to look in a certain way. As the images of the media define their own meaning of beauty, women compete to reach that image. Women often feel the need to look and dress in a certain way that is the acceptable meaning of beauty in contemporary society. Each and every part of someone’s looks are supposed to be perfect, hence why women strive so much to obtain this beautiful image. Due to so much emphasis on appearance, women only express themselves through their appearance rather than their personality and qualities. Since most women feel suppressed because of such efforts, they often compete with other women to look just as beautiful or more. They compete by comparing themselves with what is seen on media and what they see in the mirror, which then leads having to obtain that certain look. Such a mindset only proceeds to discontentment and endless shopping of accessories and make-up with such competition.
An example of such images in contemporary society at work would be how images in media have an effect on not only women, but girls too. At such a young age, girls learn to act and dress like ‘Barbie’. Nowadays, mothers encourage and doll-up their daughters to go for beauty pageants. A known show called, ‘Toddlers in Tiara’ also portray the image of girls trying to depict what is beauty. There have been such cases in which girls say they want to get face-lifts to stay beautiful. For example, Barbie’s impact on young girls contributes to an increased risk of disordered eating and weight cycling (Helga, Halliwell, Ive). When these girls grow to be women, they imitate the images of fashion seen in ads and magazines. These images portray women as sex objects and women try to reach that kind of look. A woman is considered beautiful if she presents herself in a hyper-sexual way with such revealing clothes and layers of make-up. Because of this kind of mindset, it is an obligation for women to represent themselves in such a way society expects them to. Fashion magazines provide the most common form of media targeted towards women and beauty magazines have been accused of portraying the thin ideal. Thin-idealed images in magazines stimulate body disturbance in girls and women.
Images have a strong impact on people in our contemporary society, whether if they are subliminal messages or not. An image can be an idea that is implanted in an individual’s mind or of the functions in society. The ways images are portrayed is an easy strategy of stating a thought and spreading it out in mass media.
To understand messages conveyed in pictures, it’s important for one to have media literacy and analyze discreet meanings. Media literacy is very much important to anticipate the different mediums used to portray and convey messages of those who want to share ideas with the society. Without such literacy of the media, one cannot understand and disclose the true intentions and ideas of certain information. Such as this picture of the black-eyed female, it represents repression of women in society and its meaning of beauty. The victim of beauty had an artistic impression and meaning behind the image which was to be translated through observation of women in the materialistic society. People need to be aware of the photographer’s intention of the image and the message conveyed through art.
- Tolstoy, Leo. "What Is Art." "What Is Art?" by Leo Tolstoy (excerpts). Copyright Julie C. Van Camp 1997, 1896. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.
- Harper, Brit, and Marika Tiggemann. "The Effect of Thin Ideal Media Images on Women’s Self-Objectification, Mood, and Body Image." Sex Roles 58.9-10 (2008): 649-57. Print.
- Dittmar, Helga, Emma Halliwell, and Suzanne Ive. "Does Barbie Make Girls Want to Be Thin? The Effect of Experimental Exposure to Images of Dolls on the Body Image of 5- to 8-year-old Girls." Developmental Psychology 42.2 (2006): 283-92. Print.